Township of Black River Matheson, Ont., locks out employees

Parties fail to reach deal on weekend premiums

Employees of the township of Black River-Matheson, Ont., were locked out on Monday, Aug. 11.

The labour action was the result of failed negotiations between the township and employees represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1490. The union and employer were unable to come to terms on a new contract. Both parties have been in a legal strike and lockout position since July.

Following the lockout, as many as 17 full-time employees and several summer students picked up signs and began protesting outside the community’s municipal office.

Weekend work was a sticking point for both parties. CUPE rejected an offer from the employer that would no longer see Saturdays and Sundays as days off. The employer also proposed a suspension of premium rates for hours worked on weekends.

“Mayor and council have decided they want to provide services to the public on different days and at different times and at regular rates of pay, rather than overtime,” the township said in a statement. “It is within our mandate to negotiate these amended days and hours of work with the union to better service the public in a cost effective way.”

The union argued against the contract, questioning the potential for savings. The union further argued workers need time on weekends to spend with their families.

During the lockout the township will open its office for short periods throughout the week in an attempt to minimize inconvenience to the public and delays in services.

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